Director: D J Evans
Release date: 2006
Daddy’s Girl has been released in the US as Cravings and has a cover with fangs on it. This is on some levels a spoiler for the film but actually a misnomer, for we are not talking a fanged, un-dead vampire – as the US cover would suggest – but someone psychologically disturbed. That said, the film actually has (potentially) a supernatural element as well, as you will see.
The film starts off with scenes of psychiatrist Stephen Hughes (Richard Harrington) cycling home intercut with scenes of his wife Clare (Alex Dunn) as she smokes a cigarette, looks to use her mobile phone and then runs a bath. She gets in and slits her wrist. By the time Stephen gets home there is bloody water running under the bathroom door. He breaks it down but it is too late.
Six weeks later and he has an Estate Agent (Roger Evans) selling his apartment for him, he is also on a large amount of medication. We see him speaking to a woman in a hospital – we later discover it his mother – and then he bumps into his boss and friend, Eisner (Mark Lewis Jones), and tells him he wants to go back on duty; he is ready. He is given some case files but, as he leaves the hospital, we can tell he isn’t ready when he sees Clare – though it is actually a random woman who he thought was Clare, he then realises.
His first case is Nina (Jaime Winstone) a young girl whose case seems simple, if a little close to home, as it appears she has slit her own wrist. Her mother, Liz (Louise Delamere), is very defensive and Nina claims it was an accident. She starts to cough up blood. Stephen goes to see his mother and suddenly Nina is at the bedside with him. As he takes her back to her ward he explains that his mother’s body no longer produces enough red blood cells but also explains that we all die eventually. Nina claims that she is not going to die.
Nina wanders off again and sees a boy hooked to a blood pack – before she is found and returned to her room, she asks him if she can have some. Stephen, by then, has got back to his flat to find that the bath tap is running. The next day he has a plumber, Rossiter (Ifan Huw Dafydd), round. The plumber has lost a foot but still feels phantom pain, which Stephen stops with acupuncture. The plumber – before he leaves – tells Stephen that *she* says she is sorry. It is clear he refers to Clare.
He visits Nina and she tells him that her injury was an accident; she just didn’t mean to cut so deep. She says that when she did she had put her mouth on the wound to stop the blood and drank some – hence coughing it up. Later, whilst Stephen is at home finding his taps on again, Nina sneaks from her bed again. She goes to Stephen’s mother and tries to take her intravenous blood pack. The older lady reacts and falls and Nina runs before she is caught. When we see her she has blood at her mouth and a necklace in her hand. Stephen’s mother doesn’t survive the fall out of bed.
He is at the hospital when Liz approaches him to ask if Nina can come home. He breaks down into tears and she comforts him, something Nina sees. We cut forward and, after his mother’s funeral, he sees Nina hanging around the graveyard. He confronts her and takes her home, however Eisner sees him walking out of the graveyard holding her hand. Stephen is later warned how inappropriate it seemed. We see a session with another patient, Lucy (Katie Owen), and then a session with Nina where she accuses her mother of wanting to sleep with Stephen.
The film starts to build at a steady rate then. Stephen’s bath and shower keep turning themselves on and Rossiter suggests that Clare is trying to warn him about something. This is the possibly supernatural element, though that is not certain. When Stephen discusses this with Eisner, he suggests that Stephen himself is turning them on and then blanking the act as part of his grief. However one has to question why, in that case, Eisner would keep the man working? He and Liz begin an affair, completely inappropriately. In fact Stephen seems to have lost all form of understanding about keeping an ethical distance.
We do discover that, when Nina was six years old, Liz had left her with her father. Liz believed that he was clean – they had split up die to his drug abuse – but he managed to kill himself through an air embolism whilst he was shooting up. Liz found her watching TV. What we see, but she doesn’t explain to Stephen, is that the little girl had her father’s blood around her mouth.
Her need for blood is increasing. She opens up her pet and also has Lucy cut herself so that she can feed from her. How they knew each other isn’t explained but it did strike me that there seemed something deliberate about having one character named Nina (which sounds an awful lot like Mina, and indeed some versions of Dracula change Mina to Nina) and a second called Lucy. Especially as this progressing from drinking one’s own blood to other peoples is a facet of Renfield Syndrome.
Named by Richard Noll after the character from Dracula, Renfield’s Syndrome or Clinical Vampirism is normally found in men but sees a progression from self drinking to craving others' blood, normally with a sexual connotation after puberty. Stephen believes Nina suffers from this though Eisner suggests that schizophrenia or porphyria might be more likely than a ‘dime store novel diagnosis’. Clearly the film maker’s are looking straight to Renfield’s Syndrome, however.
The film works rather well and I loved the ending, which I won't spoil. However some of the reactions just don’t feel natural – especially in that I don’t think Eisner would have kept him working as long as he did. That said, such feelings only occurred to me on thinking about the film, the pace and tension keeps you engrossed in the film. There are also some moments of black humour, a look by Nina back and forth between blender and poodle was darkly humorous – though her actions subsequently were just plain disturbing. This was down to an excellent performance by Jaime Winstone who really came across as a twisted young madam.
This was an unusual entry into the vampire genre and it was vampire genre; the craving for blood, the belief that she would be immortal, the almost sexual connotation all suggested as much. It is a shame, therefore, that the US release should have a blatant undead vampire theme for the cover. 6.5 out of 10.
The imdb page is here.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Director: D J Evans